Monday, 20 March 2017

5-9th /3/17 Broads Trip......Big Pike, Bigger Perch

 24lb 15oz

The Norfolk Broads, also known as 'Broadland' Is synonymous with pike fishing, and famous, or Infamous, depending upon one's point of view, pike anglers. Historic names such as Jim Vincent, Dennis Pye, and Bill Giles among many others,along with a plethora of notable pike captures have frequently been seen In angling publications for decades and, at some time during any true pike enthusiast's career, a trip  to fish the extensive system of waterways Is surely essential.
However, like any venue for the visiting angler ,It's not always an easy place to 'crack' and, for me personally, It has, at times, been frustrating in the extreme.
Almost ten years ago, Dave and me , along with our good mate Paul Fosterjohn visited Horning on the River Bure for the first time. That Inaugural trip produced a 'twenty' for Dave from the back garden of our 'digs' of all places, along with a handful of other lesser pike but, subsequent visits have proven far less productive, despite using a variety 'floaty' things to try and Improve our chances.
This year's trip was to be our fourth, and our first venture using our trusty Orkney Longliner river craft 'Finatic' anywhere other than her home venue, which we towed up on the back of Dave's 'four by'.
We've always stayed in the same holiday let-'Wake Robin' a small riverside apartment, complete with authentic 70s d├ęcor, fixtures and fittings but, with It's own garden mooring and fishing spot, trailer parking and a huge garage where we can spread out our kit. Access to the river for our boat, Is from a village slipway just a few hundred yards away and a suitable hostelry well within staggering distance, which serves excellent food and a wide range of fine ales completes the picture of our perfect winter piking destination.

 Motor trolling is outlawed on the Broads system, as we've found out, to our slight embarrassment on previous visits  but, despite having a cuddy, our Orkney Is just small and light enough to row effectively, In low wind conditions, and so our main attack plan Involved float trolling live baits for the pike.
But, before we could attempt this we had to catch our baits and, on the first afternoon, after we'd launched our boat and secured It's mooring spot, the general coarse rods and maggots were put to use in the 'garden' swim.
Nothing much at all happened until the light faded and then the river seemed to come alive with topping roach but, It was the perch that were most Impressive. Using a single maggot on a size 20 I managed to up my personal best perch with this one at 2lb 15oz - a most splendid fish

 ...and there were more to come on subsequent evenings with many to just under 2lb falling to worm baits, along with some superb bait sized fish.

 1lb 10oz perch......NOT a bait fish It must be added.
On the final evening Dave 'slaughtered' a shoal of them on worm section with maggots as feed, using his ancient 'cane and pin' outfit, whilst I attempted, and failed, to catch some big roach on quiver tipped flake that we'd been told were present, and will require further Investigation on future visits. One other little 'treasure' that did turn up snaffling our worm baits were some ruffe. Also known as pope , neither of us had seen examples of these since our teenage years.
 A feisty ruffe.
As for the pike fishing-well, concentrating for the most part on the river sections rather than Broads themselves, the trolling certainly worked It's magic when we were able to do it .
 As well as a handful of lesser pike, the big girl at the head of this entry made my first day, and Is indeed my sole twenty pounder of the season. She took a big roach bait some thirty yards behind the boat ,and must surely be the most vividly marked 'twenty' I've ever caught, and a pleasant change to the pale creatures we're accustomed to catching on our local waters.
At times the wind made trolling almost Impossible and we elected to fish static baits which, although  producing a couple of aborted runs , was less successful that the more mobile approach.
Whilst bait fishing In the garden,  we both also had pike rigs out but, unlike on former occasions, these failed to produce much more than a couple of takes from jacks which surprised us somewhat as our ground baiting was attracting plenty of prey fish Into the area.
Towing and working our river boat proved extremely easy , due in no small part to It's light weight, and I'm sure that with what we've learned on this trip, many future forays to various venues will be undertaken both for pike, and other species.

19th-27th February 2017 Panama Adventure

Sam (the man on the telly) Wadman had Invited me along for a kayak fishing trip to Panama several months ago and, along with the other members of the party; Kyle Waterhouse and Paul Harman, we'd been enthusiastically exchanging messages on 'Facepack' in the run up to the even,t whilst spending copious amounts of 'hard earned' on an outrageous collection of lures.
Finally , after much anticipation, the day of our departure  had arrived , and I met with Paul and Kyle, at Paul's picturesque pub in East Sussex-'The Jack and Jill' to catch our flight from Heathrow to Panama City via Madrid.
Two days later and ,after a one night stop at the 'Hotel California' in the capital, and a fascinating cross country road trip, taking in the Impressive Panama canal en route,  we finally caught up with Sam ,and his wife Leila, who had spent their winter travelling down the Eastern seaboard of the United States and Central America, at a small Pacific coastal town.
Here we were met by our host for the trip Pascal , a dapper French expatriate with a passion for fishing who had set up an Isolated beach camp several miles along the coast.
 To get there, along with our fuel, food and beer supplies for the trip,  we travelled in a pair of Pangas-  open decked,  flat bottomed 20ft plus, tiller steered outboard powered boats which reminded me very much of a  tank landing craft, and would also serve as our Kayak transport and back up craft for the fishing .
These were handled extremely skilfully being beached stern first with the skipper raising the 75hp two stroke by hand, which Impressed me greatly. Imagine doing that on a Littlehampton beach.
The camp is a series of timber built cabins set among lush vegetation in stunning surroundings just yards from a black sandy beach- a true paradise. Amenities were basic, but more than adequate although the presence of huge spiders and scorpions in one's toilet facility were a bit of an eye opener requiring some deft handy work with the fishing pliers.
The Hobie kayaks were pedal powered and the major advantage of this form of propulsion would become apparent when we started catching fish, especially the larger specimens. I will admit to being a little apprehensive of the kayaking at first, especially with my lack of experience, but I learned an awful lot very quickly from the other guys in the party and by the end of the trip, my confidence had Increased considerably, as had my ability to catch.
A lot of the action Involved close Inshore lure casting to various  structures, whilst ten foot swells would catch you completely unawares leaving you dangerously close to some pretty gnarly rocks if you didn't keep your wits about you, and learn to pedal hard. 
 All the fishing was done with artificials-big surface poppers, or sub surface plugs and stick baits with my two favourites being a Daiwa saltiga popper, and a Yo-Zuri mag darter, although a jerk bait design similar in many ways to what we would use at home for pike also proved very successful.
 On occasion we would fish slightly offshore with jigs or troll deep diving plugs whilst on the move between marks. Outfits were one and two piece popping/jigging rods armed with High quality Daiwa and Shimano fixed spool reels and loaded with 50-65lb Braid.
 Everything we caught wanted to pull our arms out of their sockets regardless of their size and the bigger species were more than capable of dragging the kayaks where they wanted to go-usually where you didn't want to go. To say the fishing was exciting would be a gross understatement and a huge variety of species were caught.
 Blue trevally-stunning markings and pound for pound one of the fastest, hardest fighters we were to encounter.
 Yellowfin tuna-we dined on this one but watching the braid cut through the water at speed when I hooked it will be an enduring memory......and, this is just a 'tiddler'.
 Almaco jack-caught on a jig from an offshore rock mark just as the lure hit the sea bed.
 Red snapper- we chased a shoal of these for ages picking the odd one off with a surface popper.
 Sam with an Almaco
 Paul with a rock snapper...pretty fish.
 Check out the teeth on Paul's cubera- a strong dogged battler.

 Paul with 'cuda.

 Kyle with a beautiful mullet snapper. Almost a red version of the striped bass.
Every day was filled with fishy action but I suppose the highlight of the trip for me personally came in the last hour or so, on the final day.
 Kyle and myself had peeled off from the guys and the support boat, chasing down a shoal of red snapper and picking off the odd one or two on  poppers-terrific sport in itself. This eventually led us very close to a huge sub surface rock structure just yards from the shoreline with evil swells breaking violently over It's craggy surface.
At that point I hadn't caught a cubera, and desperately wanted one but , on my first cast which landed just a few feet from the rock, my lure was  Immediately hit by a modest sized specimen that I was more than pleased with. I could go home a happy man but, there was more to follow.
Paddling (pedalling) the kayak back into position, I launched the plug once more to exactly the same spot and, a split second after it had hit the surface, a huge dark red shape literally engulfed it on the spot. Then it was game on.
 The fight was spectacular and nerve wracking, with the big snapper diving strongly trying desperately to pull me into the rocky trap but, with Kyle guiding me with constant advice 'pedal.........PEDAL like F*** mate' I managed to steer the Immensely powerful fish clear of the snags, and out into clear water.
 I did wonder whether the light popping rod, and fresh water sized reel I was using could handle the strain as at times it was literally bent over double, and I was hanging on as hard as I dared on maximum drag, but the outfit managed to survive, as did I,and win the battle.
When I eventually managed to surface the fish, I could not believe my eyes-It was truly 'monsterous'. After a bit of a struggle faffing around with the lip grips like a complete 'tyro', I did manage to pull the stunning fish on to my lap but, it was too heavy for me to lift up.
Kyle did the honours with the camera (superb lens work mate) and then the fish was released back into the sea swimming down strongly to the depths. That sight will stay in my mind's eye forever.
But, there was even more to come.
 My first cubera snapper. I was over the moon with this one but there was much, much more to come on the next cast.

 Highlight of my trip, and Indeed my whole fishing career. My BIG Cubera.
Next it was Kyle's turn and once again, On literally my mate's first cast, the big popper  was smashed and he 'In' to another huge snapper, and the roles were reversed with me guiding 'my man' to safety and doing the camera stuff. Priceless.
At this point Kyle and me decided that, we'd finished the trip on a high note, it was time to 'call it', and head back to the Panga.
 Kyle's BIG Cubera.
Meanwhile a few hundred yards away Sam was battling with some big roosterfish. At that point I'd not yet set sight on one of the big girls so when I spied Sam was into one, was keen to race over (relatively speaking) and catch a glimpse of these most Impressive looking fish.
It was well worth the effort as Sam's 'rooster' was truly huge, and hugely impressive, and I was priveleged  to be able to assist in unhooking, filming and photographing it for him- a really fantastic end to the fishing it has to be said.
 So a fitting end to a truly amazing trip with terrific people and by far one of the best foreign excursions I've personally experienced .Somehow I think we  might return again next year as we've all got targets to meet....mine is one of those big roosters.
 One of Sam's BIG roosterfish.
 Kyle's Lure collection.
 From left to right; Myself, Paul Harman, Kyle Waterhouse,Leila Haghihi, and Sam Wadman. Fantastic people to spend time with.
Kyle's made a pretty neat video of the trip editing some of his go-pro can be found here;
 Check out the whale shark in the video footage...Here's the still shot, again by Kyle, with Pascal taking a ride. Pretty impressive eh.
 If you'd be Interested In experiencing this superb fishing for yourself, further details, and booking availability can be obtained from Sam Wadman- or by giving him a bell on; 07813 640066.


Friday, 3 March 2017

More February Piking

It's already March 3rd as I write this and another river pike season is drawing to a close. I was away fishing in Panama (more of which later) during the back half of February and Dave and me will be towing our river boat to the Norfolk Broads in a couple of days for a week's piking so it remains to be seen whether or not we'll get a chance to fish the river again before the close of proceedings.
At the moment, due to recent heavy rain, It's running very high and coloured, so much so in fact that it may cause us problems tomorrow when we attempt to recover the boat on its trailer for our trip. The water levels at high tide will prevent us from navigating under some of the bridges and it may be necessary to wait for the ebb before levels drop enough to clear the cuddy roof, and allow us to reach the slipway some ten miles downstream.
We were hoping to be able to use a makeshift slip some five miles upstream but it doesn't look like that's going to happen.
I did have a few  pike trips in the first half of February before travelling abroad, with not much to show for my efforts.
My birthday on the 9th produced nothing to my baits but Dave secured a really nice 19 pounder on a small live roach that he'd caught using feeder tactics. A short session two days later produced yet another blank but was followed, again two days later ,by quite an active session with two dropped fish and this one at 12lb-8oz all on live baits.
I returned to the same area the following week in very mild weather conditions but could only manage a , rarely seen this season , Jack pike again to a small roach bait caught as the tide was flooding.
Dave meanwhile, has been putting in considerable effort on a neighbouring river trying to extract some of its legendary pike but I'll let him tell his own story here;